Wednesday, December 14, 2016
The Spirit of Grace: The Baptism In the Holy Ghost
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14 NKJV
In the last few weeks, we've been engaged in a study concerning the Holy Spirit. In review, the main thrust of this study has been towards growing in intimacy with the Spirit in our daily lives. We've seen that the Spirit is our comforter and helper. We've shed light on the concept of spiritual hunger while maintaining the understanding that He is ever present within us.
These truths I am sharing are designed not to create division or raise debate. My prayer is that these truths I share will bring freedom, help you gain greater understanding, and empower you in your relationship with our good Father. Today, we want to explore more deeply the ministry of the Spirit in empowering the believer in Christ.
Probably few subjects can create as much or greater controversy than what I am about to share. The Baptism in the Spirit and the availability of tongues and the supernatural gifts of the Spirit have divided so many Christians. Before you cast your stones and close your mind think of this. Innumerable Christians from all denominations, Protestants, and Catholics, and believers who are new to the faith have all shared a similar testimony. They've received this Baptism into the Holy Ghost and have spoken in other tongues. Why then the division?
I personally believe that the enemy fears greatly, Christians who've received power from on high to be a greater witness, and are learning how to walk in their dominion and authority in Christ. Alongside pride, strife and division are the enemy's chief devices he tries to employ against us. The enemy goads Christians into regulating Christianity to mere intellectualism. If Christians from all backgrounds and different races, creeds, and color, all share a wonderful gift they've received and there are many objections raised, I suspect the enemy is trying to weaken and undermine the Church attempting to prevent believers from receiving this great gift.
What is this Baptism in the Holy Ghost? For me to answer this I ask for your sincerity. I ask that you turn off any religious traditional teaching you've ever heard on this subject. What will greatly assist you is if you actually read what the Word of God actually records. Don't read into any passage. Just let the Word of God speak for itself.
The Baptism in the Spirit is a baptism or immersion of the born again believer in Christ into the Holy Spirit. This immersion is subsequent to salvation. Salvation is when we are born again, made a new creature and the Spirit immerses us or baptizes us into the Body of Christ. Jesus likened the work of the Spirit in salvation as a well of water springing up to eternal life. Jesus likened this subsequent work of the Spirit as flowing rivers of living water from deep within.
Jesus is the baptizer in the Holy Ghost. When you desire and simply ask to receive after you're a born again child of God, Jesus immerses you into the Spirit. This empowers you to be a witness and really enhances your total spiritual life in Christ. Look at how all four Gospels testify of this truth. Matthew 3 speaks of this. Mark and Luke and John also testify of this.
Some may be thinking, well this sounds good but is this still for us today? Peter the Apostle makes it abundantly clear this gift is for all believers in Christ. Some may be thinking, I am interested in this but I've heard so many objections. Let's answer these objections.
1.) First objection: we get all there is at the point of salvation.
Let me see how Paul the Apostle of Grace would respond to this.
he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” Acts 19:2 NKJV
If there is no subsequent empowerment from on high nor any gifts to be received after initial belief in Christ, why did Paul, the writer of over half the New Testament even ask this question? Paul knew and understood these believers needed the full benefits package the Finished Work brings.
2. Second Objection: We are complete in Christ! We need no extra spiritual gift or "2nd work of Grace" to be more complete.
While I as a Radical Grace minister am the first to proclaim your completion in Christ, this argument is operating on a misunderstood premise. Paul declared and revealed to us in Colossians that we are complete in Him. I rejoice and celebrate this truth. What did Paul exactly mean?
I ask that because though we are complete in Him the moment we believe, Paul in other places infers there are things that we are lacking when it comes to spiritual development. Paul in many places revealed the urgent need for believers to walk in the love of God. He instructed believers to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. He taught in other places for believers to put off the old man and put on the new. Why did Paul teach this?
Didn't Paul know we were already complete lacking nothing? Why tell me to be transformed by the renewal of the mind if we were already complete? I trust you can see that there exist no contradiction in his teaching but there is a proper perspective to what he taught.
The truth is simple. In our identity as born again children of God, those made alive and partakers of the new nature and made the righteousness of God we are complete. We lack nothing in our identity in Christ.
However, in our spiritual development and growth and maturity into who He already made us we haven't "arrived" if you will. In light of this understanding, we can see how beneficial a subsequent empowerment from on high is a gift that brings greater fruit and power into our spiritual walk.
Now that we've allayed some major objections, let's briefly examine this Baptism in the Spirit.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:4 NKJV
This is the first instance of the Baptism in the Spirit. This event is not the Spirit coming to complete the disciples union in Christ. The disciples were born again and had already received the Spirit in their heart. John's gospel records this event. What we see recorded in Acts are the disciples receiving power from on high.
Take a look at Peter. Weeks prior to this event he was too timid and ashamed to acknowledge that he even knew Jesus. After this empowerment from on high, Peter is transformed. He speaks before a multitude and proclaims the name of Christ and reveals the plan of salvation. Three thousand souls got saved because of Peter's transformation. This is the fruit of the Baptism in the Spirit.
Ok brother, I can see the empowerment but what about the tongues thing? Ok, Paul and Jesus both declared in the mouth of two or three witnesses will something be established. In every instance when we see believers receiving the Baptism in the Spirit in the Word there is a physical manifestation. In Acts 2, Acts 10, Acts 19, we see a physical manifestation accompanying this wonderful Baptism.
In Acts 8 and Acts 9 it doesn't record that a physical manifestation occurred. Well, In Acts 8 Simon the sorcerer evidently saw something because he knew the exact instant one had received this Baptism and requested that Peter would sell him the ability to lay hands on people so they could receive. In Acts 9 it doesn't detail Paul's receiving the Baptism in the Spirit but we do know that he did speak in tongues because he admitted so in 1 Corinthians.
Tongues or private prayer language is a free gift available to ALL believers that normally accompanies this Baptism. This Baptism and prayer language don't mean that one is a superior Christian. It has nothing to do with maturity, for new believers can receive this gift.
Would you like to receive? It is simple, no works or performance or "standard of holiness" required. Being a born again child of God is all that is necessary. Simply desire this gift, if you don't want it or disagree it's for us today God won't force you to receive a free gift. Next simply ask, Luke 11:13.
"Jesus as a new creation, as your child, whom you love eternally, I ask that you baptize me in the Spirit now and I receive it now in Jesus name. Thank you, Jesus, you always have my best at heart!"
It's that simple. I recommend spending some devotional time alone with our Father in a quiet time of communion and reflection. In this time trust and wait on Him for the release of the Spirit and the releasing of your prayer language. Understand, He won't speak the words for you, you must speak out that Heavenly language from within out of your own lips. It's not complicated and it's nothing to fear. You'll never be the same again!
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net